Writing, life, politics

Tag: 4paws

Conversations With The Dog

From time to time, and especially when she’s just woken up, 4Paws seems to find herself in a biting/gnawing sort of mood. Her mouth opens wide, she emits a strange high-pitched yawn/whine/cry utterly unlike any other sound she ever makes, and then quickly starts gnawing away on whatever object might be within reaching distance: her bone toy, her blanket… a carelessly placed hand. At which point Jules usually shoves one of her own paws into her yawing mouth, telling her: “If you want to chew on something, chew on that!” (This usually produces a moments confused pause, before she resumes chewing on whichever of our body parts she was previously chewing on).

We’ve got family staying with us at the moment. Yesterday morning, 4Paws got up and wondered out of our bedroom and into the guest bedroom where my mother-in-law was sleeping. (Or at least presumably was sleeping until the dog decided to come and say hello). For a few minutes we heard absolutely nothing, and concluded that 4Paws had gone peacefully to sleep on the bed next door. And then…

Mother-in-law: [amused] Are you biting?

4Paws: Yahhhrraa yahhhrraa yarralllll….

That’ll be a yes then, right?

Things My Dog Has Taught Me

Lesson One: Stick Up For Yourself

If you come into the living room and find that the small, but potentially vicious dog that your mummy and daddy have invited to come and stay has decided to steal your bed…

…don’t get mad, get even. Steal his bed!

Even if it is way too small for you.

Lesson Two: Never Give Up When Faced With A Challenge

When faced with what seems like an insurmountable challenge, such as trying to squeeze yourself into a bed that’s clearly way too small for you, it’s easy to become dispirited and give up. But if you try, and try, and squeeze and struggle, you might just overcome that challenge…

…and somehow cram yourself into that bed that’s way too small for you.

1st October Is Dog Freedom Day!

Brighton is a wonderful place to live, but it does have a darker side. Not everyone is equal, and not everyone is welcome. Freedoms the rest of us take for granted – the right to roam where we will – are not enjoyed by all of us.

Yes. I’m talking about dogs being banned from the beach. Now I know what some people are going to day. Dogs aren’t people, and they don’t pay taxes. Well kids don’t pay taxes either, and I don’t see them being banned. And of course, there’s the other obvious complaint: that dogs will leave poo all over the beach. Now for a start, my dog doesn’t poo on the beach. In fact, she has some weird complex about pooing or weeing anywhere other than our house’s small, paved back yard – but that’s a separate issue that we’re working through, together, as a family. But the key point is that it’s not dogs who leave poo on the beach, it’s moronic, selfish owners – who are unlikely to obey no dogs signs, anyway.

It’s not all bad. There is one (small) section of beach where @4pawsnexus is allowed to get her paws wet. (Metaphorically speaking – she’s not sure what to make of the sea and makes sure to keep at least a few inches away from it). But we have to walk quite a way along the beach to get there, and she finds it really hard to get her doggy brain around the fact that she’s allowed on this one bit of beach but not all the others.

It doesn’t help that she’s illiterate, of course. And did I mention that she’s obsessed with the beach? (I have no idea why. When you let her on the beach she heads straight down to the foreshore like an Exocet, then turns her back on the sea, totally ignoring it, and instead waits for you to start throwing pebbles either side of her, which she watches, but makes no attempt to catch.)

Anyhow, we’ve now settled into a nice routine when we go for a walk along the esplanade that lies between Hove Lawns and the beach. (If you’re asking why we don’t walk along Hove Lawns instead, I’d remind you about the obsessed with the beach bit).

As we walk, 4Paws will sprint ahead to the next gap in the railings leading to a set of steps or ramp down onto the beach. She will pause to check that I’m following her, then scamper on down. A few seconds later she will pop back up, check that I’m still heading her way, then disappear down again. I will then walk past, point out to her that it’s not a dog beach, and then at some point when she realises I’m not coming down, she’ll scamper back up, sprint past me to the next beach entrance, to continue a process that we’ll carry out all the way to Dog Beach.

I did use to shout at her to not go onto the beach, but that just played out in exactly the same way as now with one specific and undignified difference: I looked like that man who has no control over his dog whatsoever. Which isn’t true. She’s a really well behaved dog and always comes back when you call her.

Just as long as there isn’t a beach nearby.

But I guess I should be happy that the council have given us one little stretch of beach, although it would be nice if they could perhaps just give us one tiny little bit more, perhaps a little bit closer to the centre of Brighton? Pretty please?

Oh well. Roll on Dog Freedom Day.


4Paws was very cute last night. It was one of those moments that I guess makes owning a dog so special.

She’s always pretty happy to see me when I arrive home, but when I arrived home last night she’d apparently been having a nap, and was thus even more excited and energetic than usual. (Border Collies, seven-month old puppies especially, have a lot of energy – this was after being walked for a good few hours that day). After bouncing into me, into Jules, back into me, and then spending several seconds running round in circles on the sofa, she suddenly sprinted across the lounge, out the door and into the passageway, out of sight.

Jules (who was sitting at one end of the sofa) and I (who was sitting in front of the sofa) looked at each other, each thinking, “Where’s she off to?” Then, from the far end of the passage, we heard the sound of scrabbling paws on carpet as she presumably executed a one-eighty at high speed. There was another second or so of silence before she burst back through the open doorway and launched herself at us with a manic look on her face. I think Jules ducked one way and I certainly ducked the other, allowing her to sail through the space between us and crash into the back of the sofa. She bounced off, made a couple more manic laps of the sofa, then sprinted back out the doorway again.

She repeated that five or six times, with us throwing ourselves clear each time; on about the fourth time she hit the back of the sofa so hard and high that she nearly bounced over the back into the gap behind.

I think she was pleased to see me.

I Have A New Girl In My Life

She’s seven-months old, black and white, and is always sure to greet me with a wagging tail when I get home from work. Yes, we have a dog.

In accordance with my long standing policy of protecting people’s privacy by using Internet handles rather than their real names, I will henceforth refer to her as 4PawsNexus, or 4Paws for short. She’s absolutely gorgeous and I’m hopelessly smitten.

Yesterday, we all took a very long walk (about 4 miles) up the sea front into Hove, stopping at Heather Mills’s new vegan cafe. (We couldn’t go in, because it was very late and it was booked for a private party, but we had a really good chat with the chef and it all sounds pretty good). And 4Paws had a lovely time, sniffing around, chasing after her ball, and enjoying lots of “doggy handshakes” (a.k.a. prolonged arse-sniffing) with lots of other very nice dogs. It really is true that you talk to people a lot more when you’ve got a dog.

And then we went home to our beds.

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